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South African Police Service

South African Police Service
Abbreviation SAPS
Logo of the South African Police Service
Agency overview
Formed 1995
Preceding agencies
  • South African Police
  • Homeland police agencies
Employees 190,199[1] (March 2010)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency South Africa
Size 1,219,090 km2
Population 49,320,500[1] (June 2009)
Constituting instruments
  • Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996, Chapter 11, Section 205
  • South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995
General nature
Operational structure
Officers 150,513[1] (March 2010)
Civilians 39,033[1] (March 2010)
Stations 1116[1]
 See the reference[2] below for the source of the above data.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the national police force of the Republic of South Africa. Its 1116 police stations in South Africa are divided according to the provincial borders, and a Provincial Commissioner is appointed in each province. The 9 Provincial Commissioners report directly to the National Commissioner.

The Constitution of South Africa lays down that the South African Police Service has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa, prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community, investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community, ensure criminals are brought to justice and participate in efforts to address the causes of crime.[3] However serious concerns have been expressed about police brutality in South Africa.[4][5][6] Amnesty International has expressed serious concerns about brutality, including torture and extrajudicial killings, at the hands of the police in South Africa.[7][8] Former Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob has argued that the post-apartheid police force is not much better than the apartheid police force.[9] Sipho Hlongwane, writing in Business Day, has argued that "South Africa is a brutal police state."[10]

From 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010, 107 SAPS officers died while on duty.[1]


  • History 1
  • Equipment 2
  • Vehicles 3
  • Organisation and composition 4
    • Divisions 4.1
    • Ranks 4.2
    • Senior Management Commissioned Officers 4.3
    • Commissioned Officers 4.4
    • Non-commissioned Officers 4.5
    • National Commissioners 4.6
  • Air Wing 5
  • Controversies 6
    • Conviction of former National Police Commissioner 6.1
  • Criticism 7
    • Remilitarisation 7.1
    • Maladministration by National Commissioner Bheki Cele 7.2
    • The Marikana Massacre 7.3
    • Police brutality 7.4
    • Corruption in Gauteng Province 7.5
    • Political repression 7.6
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The South African Police Service traces its origin to the [11] Act 3 of 1855 established the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police Force in the Eastern Cape, restyled as the Cape Mounted Riflemen in 1878.[12]

The South African Police was eventually created after the Union of South Africa in 1913. Four years later, the Mounted Riflemen's Association relinquished its civilian responsibilities to the SAP as most of its riflemen left to serve in World War I. The SAP and the military maintained their close relationship even after the SAP assumed permanent responsibility for domestic law and order in 1926. Police officials often called on the army for support in emergencies. In World War II, one SAP brigade served with the 2nd Infantry Division of the South African Army in North Africa.

When the National Party (NP) edged out its more liberal opponents in nationwide elections in 1948, the new government enacted legislation strengthening the relationship between the police and the military. The police were heavily armed after that, especially when facing unruly or hostile crowds. The Police Act (No. 7) of 1958 broadened the mission of the SAP beyond conventional police functions, such as maintaining law and order and investigating and preventing crime, and gave the police extraordinary powers to quell unrest and to conduct counterinsurgency activities. The Police Amendment Act (No. 70) of 1965 empowered the police to search without warrant any person, receptacle, vehicle, aircraft, or premise within one mile of any national border and to seize anything found during such a search. This search-and-seize zone was extended to within eight miles of any border in 1979 and to the entire country in 1983.

After the end of apartheid, the SAP was renamed South African Police Service (SAPS), and the Ministry of Law and Order was renamed the Ministry of Safety and Security, in keeping with these symbolic reforms. The new minister of safety and security,

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

  • South African Police Service Homepage
  • Online directory to contact information of all 1115 police stations in South Africa

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Profile of the SAPS as on 31 March 2010
  2. ^ "SAPS Profile". South African Police Service. Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  3. ^ SAPS: PROFILE – Vision and Mission
  4. ^ No end in sight for police brutality in South Africa, Justice Malala, The Guardian, 21 February 2013
  5. ^ South Africa, the police state of Brutality, Humiliation, Impudence, The Daily Maverick, 1 March 2012
  6. ^ , 25 October 2013Open DemocracyFootsoliders in a social war: the police, crime and inequality in South Africa CHRISTOPHER MCMICHAEL,
  7. ^ Police brutality comes as a surprise? Really?, Pierre de Vos, Daily Maverick, 1 March 2012
  8. ^ Amnesty International South Africa Report, 2012
  9. ^ ‘Cops today no better than apartheid police’, SAPA, 12 August 2013, IOL
  10. ^ This brutal police state in which we live, Sipho Hlongwane, Business Day, 22 January 2013
  11. ^ Newham, Gareth; Themba Masuku and Lulama Gomomo. "Metropolitan Police Services in South Africa, 2002". Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  12. ^ McCracken, Donal P (1991). "The Irish in South Africa – The Police, A Case Study (Part 20)". Irish Times. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  13. ^ SAPS Annual Report 2007-2008
  14. ^
  15. ^ The professor and the police minister. Paul Trewhela, 25 October 2009
  16. ^ Asmal: Militarisation of police is "craziness" Mail & Guardian, 19 October 2009
  17. ^ Green Zone Nation: The South African government’s new growth path, Open Democracy, 19 March 2012
  18. ^ a b The desperate bid to shield Selebi
  19. ^ "South Africa ex-police head Selebi guilty of corruption". BBC. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  20. ^ a b The South African Police Service and the Public Order War, by Chris McMichael, Think Africa Press, 3 September 2012
  21. ^ Location Settings (4 March 2011). "Cele must explain, says protector".  
  22. ^ Location Settings (24 October 2011). "Bheki Cele suspended over lease saga". News24. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  23. ^ Location Settings (12 June 2012). "Bheki Cele fired". News24. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "South Africa's ANC to discuss mine shootings row". BBC News. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  25. ^ Striking South African miners 'were shot in the back', The Daily Telegraph, 27 August 2012
  26. ^ The murder fields of Marikana: the cold murder fields of Marikana, by Greg Marinovich, The Daily Maverick, 8 September 2012
  27. ^ The Marikana Massacre: A turning point for South Africa, by Nigel Gibson, Truthout, 2 September 2012
  28. ^ South Africa: Marikana is a turning point, by William Gumede, The Guadian, 29 August 2012
  29. ^ "NUM: Lethal force ahead of Marikana shootings was justified".  
  30. ^ "Marikana prequel: NUM and the murders that started it all". Daily Maverick. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  31. ^ Marikana inquiry updates 23 october 2012, Times Live, 23 October 2012
  32. ^ Amnesty red flag police brutality, Craig Dodds, 13 May 2011
  33. ^ Amnesty International South Africa Report 2011
  34. ^ Police training: Brutality exposed, KAMVELIHLE GUMEDE-JOHNSON, MAIL AND GUARDIAN, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – 3 June 2011]
  35. ^ 'Predator police' in reign of terror GRAEME HOSKEN, The Times, 30 April 2012
  36. ^ The New Toyi Toyi, Brandon Edmonds, Mahala, 12 May 2012
  37. ^ If the police are no better than thugs, who will save us?, Editorial, The Times, 30 April 2012
  38. ^ "'"President Zuma of South Africa shocked over 'police dragging.  
  39. ^ Milton Nkosi (1 March 2013). "South Africa: Eight police arrested over drag death". BBC News. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  40. ^ Ramphele: ‘COPE looked to the past. Our focus is the future.’, Interview by Ryland Fischer, The Daily Maverick, 21 June 2013
  41. ^ Global Post, South Africa troubled by corrupt cops, 10 May 2012
  42. ^ See for instance this statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo
  43. ^ "Housing and Evictions at the N2 Gateway Project in Delft". Abahlali baseMjondolo. 8 May 2008. 
  44. ^ "Video of Delft shootings on eTV". YouTube. 19 February 2008. 
  45. ^ "Pictures of Delft evictions and police brutality". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 22 February 2008. 
  46. ^ See, for instance, a report on illegal police repression in South Africa by the Freedom of Expression Institute
  47. ^ "UnFreedom Day 2009". Libcom. 
  48. ^ "'Attackers associated with ANC'". News24. 
  49. ^ "The Attacks Continue in the Presence of the Police and Senior ANC Leaders". Abahlali baseMjondolo. 
  50. ^ "Joint Statement on the attacks on the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement in Durban". Professor John Dugard SC, et al. 
  51. ^ Smith, David (1 April 2010). "Life in 'Tin Can Town' for the South Africans evicted ahead of World Cup". London: The Guardian Newspaper. 
  52. ^ "Somalis harassed and threatened, but too broke to leave". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 
  53. ^ "Photos: ‘Blikkiesdorp’, the Symphony Way TRA 18 01 2009". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 
  54. ^ Two student protesters killed by police in Durban, South Africa
  55. ^ Police shoot dead two high school pupils resisting eviction, Report by Anti-Privatisation Forum Kathorus Concerned Residents (KCR), 19/02/04
  56. ^ a b Tatane’s death opens old wounds for family, City Press, Lucas Ledwaba, 2004
  57. ^ On the Murder of Andries Tatane, Richard Pithouse, All Africa, April 2011
  58. ^ Business as Usual: Housing Rights in Durban, South Africa, Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions, Geneva, 2008
  59. ^ Activist killed by South African police at demonstration against water privatisation, IndyMedia Ireland, 2008
  60. ^ Unisa student's body released from mortuary, Gugu Mbonambi, Daily News, 2008
  61. ^ We Are All the Public, The Witness', 20 July 2009
  62. ^ Service Delivery Protests: Findings from Quick Response Research on Four 'Hot spots', by Luke Sinwell, Joshua Kirshner, Kgopotso Khumalo, Owen Manda, Peter Pfaffe, Comfort Phokela & Carin Runciman with Peter Alexander, Claire Ceruti, Marcelle Dawson, Mosa Phadi; Centre for Sociological Research, University of Johannesburg, 2009
  63. ^ Two deaths, dozens of injuries and counting..., Jared Sacks,, July 2010
  64. ^ Man shot during protest dies, SAPA, IOL, Oct 2010
  65. ^ Police brutality, Leadership Magazine, 25 April 2011
  66. ^ South Africa Police open fire on protesters following 3rd day of aggressive action, USAfricaOnline, 16 Feb 2011
  67. ^ SA police fire rubber bullets, Herald, 16 Feb 2011
  68. ^ Ermelo Residents See No Reason To Vote, Dianne Hawker, IOL, 20 February 2011
  69. ^ 100 victims of police brutality take legal action, Sizwe sama Yende, City Press, 8 May 2011
  70. ^ ICD: Rise in police abuse at service delivery protests, Emsie Ferreira, Mail & Guardian, 14 June 2011
  71. ^ ‘We want jobs now’, IOL, 4 March 2011
  72. ^ 1,200 strikers face axe, IOL, 5 March 2011
  73. ^ South African union activist killed: Demand justice now, Public Services International, 2011
  74. ^ Protesters shot dead, The Sowetan, 1 June 2011 | ALFRED MOSELAKGOMO
  75. ^ R7bn cop brutality price tag, By Graeme Hosken, IOL, 9 June 2011
  76. ^ Youngster shot dead in crossfire, by Slindile Maluleka and Silusaphu Nyanda, Daily News, 4 July 2012
  77. ^ Rajab, Kalim (20 September 2012). "Marikana's theatre of the absurd claims another life". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  78. ^ Police action leaves farmworker dead in Wolseley, SAPA, The Times, 14 November 2012
  79. ^ Western Cape protests: calmer day, thicker plot, Rebecca Davis, 16 November 2012
  80. ^ Makause: Innocent man dies and, with him, the rule of law, Mandy de Wall, 22 November 2012
  81. ^ De Doorns: Strike continues, in spite of Cosatu, Rebecca Davis, Daily Maverick, 17 January
  82. ^ Farmworkers' strike may be over – but everyone's a loser, Rebecca Davis, 23 January 2012
  83. ^ Families want answers GRAEME HOSKEN | 24 January 2013
  84. ^ Blood, smoke and tears: Zamdela's burning, G MARINOVICH & T LEKGOWA, The Daily Maverick, 23 January 2013
  85. ^ ‘We haven’t seen our son’s body’, LULAMILE FENI, The Dispatch, 22 February,
  86. ^ Rubber bullets in Soweto: Another wretched, senseless death, Greg Nicolson, The Daily Maverick, 26 April 2013
  87. ^ In Durban's Cato Manor: Death by protest, death by dissent, Khadija Patel, Daily Maverick, 1 October 2013


See also

  • Michael Makhabane Durban, 2000[54]
  • Dennis Mathibithi (17) and Nhlanhla Masuku (15), Kathlehong, 2004[55]
  • Tebogo Mkhonza (17), Harrismith, 2004[56]
  • Monica Ngcobo, (19) Durban, 2005[57]
  • Unnamed Man, Kenville, Durban, 2006[58]
  • Jan Matshobe, (27) Sebokeng, Johannesburg, 2008[59]
  • Mthokozisi Nkwanyana, (24) Durban, 2008[60]
  • Unnamed girl, KwaZakhele, KwaZulu-Natal, 2009[61]
  • Phuphu Mthwethwa (29), Piet Retief, 2009[62]
  • Priscilla Sukai (46) eTwatwa, Daveyton, 2010[63]
  • Unnamed man, Lion Park, Johannesburg, 2010[64]
  • Anna Nokele (19), Welkom, 2010[65]
  • Two unnamed children, Boipelo, Gauteng, 2011[66][67]
  • Solomon Madonsela[68] and Bongani Mathebula[69] Ermelo, 2011[70]
  • Joseph Msiza, Tshwane, 2011[71][72]
  • Petros Msiza (43), 2011 Pretoria[73]
  • Andries Tatane (33), Ficksburg, 2011[56]
  • Dimakatso Kgaswane and another unnamed person, Tlokweng, Swartruggens, 2011[74]
  • Three unnamed people in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, 2011[75]
  • Mxolisi Buthelezi, (14), Durban, 2012 (an onlooker, not a protester)[76]
  • Paulina Masuhlo, Marikana, 2012[77]
  • Michael Daniels (28), Wolsely, Western Cape, 2012[78][79]
  • Service Nkadimeng (33), Primrose, Germiston, Gauteng, on 18 November 2012.[80]
  • Letsekang Tokhwane (25), De Doorns, 14 January 2013[81] (Note: Some media reports indicate that a third, unnamed protestor was also killed in the Western Cape Farm Workers' Strike[82])
  • Six unnamed people, Sasolburg, 23 January 2013[83] (Note: One report indicates that one, also unnamed man, was reported to have been shot dead by a passing motorist)[84]
  • Nkosiyethu Wele Mgoq (15), Sterksrpuit, Eastern Cape, February 2013[85]
  • Xolani Mtshikwana (31), Soweto, 21 April 2013[86]
  • Nqobile Nzuza (17), Durban, 30 September 2013[87]

A number of unarmed protestors have been killed by the South African Police since 2000. The following list is not complete and does not include victims of the Marikana Massacre:

SAPS has also been implicated in draconian policing measures. Numerous accusations come from the infamous Blikkiesdorp Temporary Relocation Area in Delft, Cape Town where police have been accused of suppression of freedoms and illegal curfews.[51][52][53]

In 27 April 2009, SAPS attempted to ban a well-known event among the social movements called unFreedom Day[47] and was implicated in support for September 2009 ANC mob that attacked the elected leadership of the shack settlement at Kennedy Road, Durban.[48][49][50]

A number of community organisations and social movements have accused the SAPS of acting against them with illegality and brutality.[42][43][44][45] Independent studies have confirmed that the SAPS has been used to repress peaceful marches and freedom of association.[46]

Political repression

630 police officers from Gauteng Province were arrested in 2011, most for fraud and corruption, but also for rape and murder.[41]

Corruption in Gauteng Province

According to Mamphela Ramphele one of the rallying cries of the freedom struggle was the protest against police brutality, against deaths in detention. More people are dying now in police custody than ever before. We have brutality no different from during the Apartheid era.[40]

In February 2013, police in Daveyton, Gauteng were caught on video brutalising Mido Macia, a Mozambican taxi driver accused of parking illegally. They handcuffed Macia to a police van, and dragged him through the streets. Macia later died of his injuries.[38] Eight police officers were later arrested for his death.[39]

Amnesty International has expressed concerns about police brutality, including torture and extrajudicial killings, in South Africa.[32][33] There has also been concern about brutal training methods for the police.[34] According to Peter Jordi from the Wits Law Clinic "[Police] Torture is spiralling out of control. It is happening everywhere."[35] Brandon Edmonds argues that "The cops prey on the poor in this country."[36] In April 2012 an editorial in The Times opined that "It seems torture and outright violation of human rights is becoming the order of the day for some of our police officers and experts warn that the line between criminals and our law enforcement officers is "blurred"."[37]

Police brutality

It later emerged that the violence had actually started on 11 August when leaders from the National Union of Mineworkers opened fire on striking NUM members killing two.[29] It is alleged that police did nothing in the aftermath thereby creating a situation in which workers felt that they would have to use other means to protect themselves.[30] Between the 12 and 14 August, approximately 8 more people were killed including two policemen and two security guards.[31]

The incident took place at the Lonmin platinum mines in Marikana, South Africa. It was the single most deadly incident between police and the civilian population in South Africa since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and has been referred to as a turning-point in post-1994 South African society.[20][27][28]

The Marikana Massacre,[24] was a mass shooting that occurred when police broke up a gathering by striking Lonmin workers on a 'koppie' (hilltop) near the Nkaneng shack settlement in Marikana on Thursday, 16 August 2012. 34 miners died during the incident and an additional 78 miners were injured, causing anger and outcry against the police and South African government. Further controversy emerged after it was discovered that most of the victims were shot in the back[25] and many victims were shot far from police lines.[26]

The Marikana Massacre

On 12 June 2012, after a recommendation from a board of inquiry, Zuma dismissed Cele and announced that Riah Phiyega, the first female commissioner, would replace him.[23]

In February 2011 Bheki Cele was implicated in unlawful conduct and maladministration with a R500m lease agreement for the new police headquarters in Pretoria.[21] On 24 October 2011, President Jacob Zuma announced that Cele had been suspended pending an investigation into the agreement.[22]

Maladministration by National Commissioner Bheki Cele

In 2010 the police were 'remilitarised' after having been reorganised on a civilian basis at the end of apartheid. Some have argued that this has been a key cause of an escalation in political repression by the police.[20]



On 10 September 2007 a warrant of arrest was issued by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for National Police Commissioner (served as Interpol President from 2004 until 12 January 2008 when he resigned voluntarily) Jackie Selebi. On 23 September 2007 President Mbeki suspended NPA Head Vusi Pikoli, allegedly because of "an irretrievable breakdown" in the relationship between Pikoli and Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla. However, journalists at the Mail and Guardian claim to have solid information supporting the widespread suspicion that President Mbeki suspended Pikoli as part of a bid to shield Police Commissioner Selebi.[18] According to the Mail and Guardian on 5 October 2007 the NPA was investigating Selebi for corruption, fraud, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice.[18] Selebi was found guilty of corruption on 2 July 2010, but not guilty of further charges of perverting the course of justice.[19]

Conviction of former National Police Commissioner




The South African Police Service operate a fleet of 45 aeroplanes and helicopters.

SAPS Bo 105 helicopter

Air Wing

National Commissioners

Constable - Addressed as Constable

Sergeant - Addressed as Sergeant

Warrant Officer - Addressed as Warrant

Non-commissioned Officers

Lieutenant - Addressed as Lieutenant

Captain - Addressed as Captain

Major - Addressed as Major

Lieutenant Colonel - Addressed as Colonel

Colonel - Addressed as Colonel

Commissioned Officers

Brigadier - Addressed as Brigadier

Major General - Addressed as General

Lieutenant General - Addressed as General

General - Addressed as General

Senior Management Commissioned Officers


The current ranking system of the SAPS was adopted on 1 April 2010.[14] The change caused some controversy as the new ranks like "general" and "colonel" have a military connotation. Furthermore, the new rank system mirrors the system used by the South African Police during the apartheid era. In 2009, Deputy Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula spoke of making the police a paramilitary force by changing the SAPS ranking system so that it would closely mirror the military ranking system. This created a significant amount of controversy from people critical of what they called the "militarisation" of the police.[15][16][17]


  • Deputy National Commissioner for Crime Intelligence and Crime Detection, assisted by three Divisional Commissioners, namely Detective Services, Criminal Record & Forensic Science Services and Crime Intelligence;
  • Deputy National Commissioner for Human Capital Development and Legal & Financial Administration Services, assisted by four Divisional Commissioners, namely Career Management, Training, Legal Services and Financial & Administration Services;
  • Deputy National Commissioner for Personnel Management & Organisational Development, assisted by two Divisional Commissioners, namely Personnel Services and Efficiency Services, Information & System Management, Communication & Liaison Services;
  • Deputy National Commissioner for Operational Services, assisted by two Divisional Commissioners, namely Visible Policing and Cluster Coordination;
  • Deputy National Commissioner for Supply Chain Management, Protection, Security & Evaluation Services, assisted by three Divisional Commissioners, namely Protection & Security Services, Supply Chain Management and National Inspectorate.

The National Commissioner is assisted by five Deputy National Commissioners (DNC):

The Annual Report of the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008, was published on 29 August 2008.[13] In terms of this report, the structure of the SAPS looks quite different from in 1996.

The Visible Policing Division manages highly public police operations, such as guarding senior government officials and dignitaries. Most government residences are guarded by members of the division's Special Guard Unit. The division's all-volunteer Special Task Force handles hostage situations and other high-risk activities. The Internal Stability Division is responsible for preventing and quelling internal unrest, and for assisting other divisions in combating crime. The Community Relations Division consults with all police divisions concerning accountability and respect for human rights. The Supporting Services Division manages financial, legal, and administrative aspects of the SAPS. The Human Resource Management Division helps to hire, to train, and to maintain a competent work force for the SAPS.

The Crime Combating and Investigation Division holds overall responsibility for co-ordinating information about crime and investigative procedures. It administers the SAPS Criminal Record Centre, the SAPS Commercial Crime Unit, the SAPS Diamond and Gold Branch, the South African Narcotics Bureau, the Stock Theft Unit, the Inspectorate for Explosives, murder and robbery units located in each major city, and vehicle theft units throughout the country. In addition, the division manages the National Bureau of Missing Persons, which was established in late 1994.

The SAPS headquarters in Pretoria is organised into six divisions. These are the Crime Combating and Investigation Division, the Visible Policing Division, the Internal Stability Division, the Community Relations Division, the Supporting Services Division, and the Human Resource Management Division.


The commissioned officers in the force are 57% black, 28% white, 10% coloured, 2% Indian; 70% male, 30% female. Non-commissioned officers are 78% black, 10% coloured, 10% white, 2% Indian; 78% male, 22% female.[1]

Three police unions were active in bargaining on behalf of police personnel and in protecting the interests of the work force, as of 1996. These are the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, which has about 150 000 members; the South African Policing Union (SAPU), which has about 35,000 members; and the Public Service Association (PSA), which has about 4,000 members.

The SAPS includes a large reserve division named the South African Reserve Police Service. These members help part-time to combat crime in South Africa.

SAPS officers in Stellenbosch

Organisation and composition

Eurocopter MBB BO105 and Kawasaki BK117 Helicopters equipped with 30Million candle power nightsun spotlights and LEO/FLIR equipment enabled their 24x7 day/night operational capability. Riot-control forces deployed in specially designed buses or Casspir armoured personnel carriers.

Through the early 1990s, the police were also equipped with smoke and tear-gas dispensing vehicles, tank trucks with water cannons, vehicles that dispensed barbed wire or razor wire to cordon off areas rapidly, and a number of rotor and fixed wing aircraft for surveillance, ground force management, crime prevention, rapid deployment of Task Force and specialist teams to crime scenes and VIP personnel movements.


The R1 rifle has been withdrawn from all front-line police armouries since the mid-1990s, but is still used by elements of the Special Task Force.

To quell disturbances, the SAP used a variety of arms, including R1 semi-automatic rifles, BXP sub-machine gun, Musler 12 gauge shotgun which is capable of firing the new generation of anti-riot rubber bullets which are contained in a standard 12 bore shotgun cartridge as well as tear gas grenades using a so-called ballistic cartridge and pencil flares.

South African Police officers on duty generally carry a Vektor Z88 9mm pistol (although a more compact pistol, the RAP 401, is available if officers request it) and pepper spray while officers in Cape Town along with some other services of the force are equipped with Glock 17. Each police patrol usually also equipped a R5 rifle in the car.

Police officers with Vektor R5 assault rifles on SAPS parade in Johannesburg, May 2010
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